How To Winterize A Boat

Winter has come once again, which means that it’s time to once more go through a series of seasonal rituals. It’s time to go crazy trying to get presents for all your friends and family before time runs out, eat way too much food, watch football and hockey games before A Charlie Brown Christmas comes on – and oh yes, remember to winterize your boat.

Far too many boat owners forget to do this, or skip it, thinking that it won’t matter in the long run. The result is too often a boat that meets its untimely frostbitten demise. ​Although there are some extra financial costs involved in storing a boat over the winter, you don’t want your boat to become severely damaged simply because you didn’t take some simple winter precautions.

With this quick guide, you’ll be able to properly prep your boat for the impending winter chill. 

Fogging Your Engines

One thing you’ll want to be sure to do is fog your engine. For those not in the know, this involves spraying a special kind of oil into your engine’s carburetors. The oil is a special anticorrosive designed to help protect the internal workings of your engine from the ravages of the winter weather. Failure to properly fog your engines with this anticorrosive oil can have serious consequences and even potentially leave your engine dead.

While you’re here, you’ll also want to deal with your spark plugs. Take the time to carefully remove them, pour the appropriate antifreeze or other protective oils into the right area, and replace them.

Different engines have different setups, and thus different ways and places in which to add this oil, so be sure that you’re doing it the right way.

Drain the Fuel

There is a very basic experiment that many grade school science classes do wherein they pour water into a container, close the lid, place it in a fridge or freezer, come back over a period of time, and presto! The water has frozen and pushed the lid up.

Failure to drain your fuel before putting your boat away for the winter can lead to a similar phenomenon happening with your fuel and tank, except it’s no fun grade school science experiment. Instead, the fuel can freeze, block up your engine, and potentially even crack it. 

You’ll therefore want to be sure to drain your engine of any and all fuel which may still be in your tank.

Storage Options

One of the biggest factors in determining how effectively you are able to winterize your boat and prepare it for the cold temperatures ahead is the manner in which you store it.

If at all possible, it is preferable that you store your boat indoors. You want to make sure that your boat is kept as far as possible from the harsh winter weather that can freeze its components and leave it in bad shape. Storing it inside eliminates the damage it can face from the cold winter waters as well as much of the exterior weathering forces.

How much it is protected will depend on the nature of the indoor storage area. If you are storing your boat in your garage and cannot keep your boat completely enclosed, it will not be completely protected. Even if you've covered up your boat with a tarp, it will still have to contend with the cold temperatures.

It is thus vital that you store your boat in an area that is as climate controlled as possible.

Protecting Your Hull

One of the most important things you’ll want to do before you put your boat away for the winter is check its hull. You never want to see any cracks or defects in the hull, but you certainly don’t want to see one at the outset of winter, where months of cold temperatures and a lack of attention could lead to a gradual breakdown or outright split. Be sure to repair any and all defects in your boat’s hull before putting the boat away for the winter.

Your Checklist

For as important as it is to check your hull, that’s just the beginning, as there is a whole checklist worth of items that you’ll want to check in the course of winterizing your boat, including the following:

  • Check your plugs, belts, wires, hoses, and other accoutrements
  • Flush out the cooling system
  • Make use of antifreeze
  • Grease joints 
  • Spray moisture repellent over appropriate areas
  • Check the fuel line
  • Drain any water or other fluids
  • Check for any problems with your engine battery and make sure it too is stored properly

The cost of doing all of this should not set you back more than a few hundred dollars. By contrast, failing to do so can lead to a loss of several hundred or thousand dollars as you are forced to address serious problems with your boat’s hull, electrical connections, and engine.

That’s why you’ll want to take your time and be sure that you get your boat winterizing routine right.